Nemenko E. P. Intellectuals and society in contemporary French sociology: on the history of the engagement concept (.pdf)


The article examines the history of the engagement concept, its genesis during the public debates on social and political role of intellectuals in France in the early 20th century and its following conceptualization in critical sociology of intellectuals and in the pragmatist sociology of the regimes of engagement. In public debates, the term “engagement” initially had strong ethical connotations and was used in two senses: as a commitment to a certain ideological or political program and as a bias, subjective and even dishonest publicly made statement. The critical sociology objectifies the concept of engagement as a subversive strategy of the intellectuals occupying dominated positions in the intellectual field in the game over symbolic capital. The pragmatic sociology turns the concept of engagement into its basic metaphor and describes intellectual engagements as plural ways of conciliation of the values of the worlds of art and science with the request of cultural democratization in the 20th century. The paper argues that the distinction of cognitive styles of discourses using the concept of engagement can be significantly helpful in creating a new vision of the relationship between the sphere of symbolic goods, such as art, philosophy and social sciences, and social reality.


Key words: engagement of intellectuals, regimes of engagement, cognitive style, field theory, pragmatic sociology.


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